Last night was one of those fabulous nights that gives me hope. It was preceded by a wonderful afternoon, where a casual stroll found me conversing with a local artist as he painted a portrait of Carlos Santana as part of the mural that he has made of the magnificent, unused, Court Square Building. He was going to see the Falcons play that night for Dr Seuss Night with his wife who was dropping the ceremonial first puck, my wife and I were going to the symphony, and so we both were going to miss the Beatles tribute at City Stage.
In time for dinner at our favorite Indian restaurant my wife and I left the house and meandered through downtown; people everywhere. The redesigned glass façade of “Tower Square” opened up the inside of the otherwise brutalist monstrosity along Main Street to show dozens of people enjoying panini at a locally owned establishment, a valet in front of the Student Prince was…playing hopscotch? Doing a jig? Paramount Pizza has a new, garish rainbow colored LED sign, and I like it. The establishment next door, however, fails to convince my wife for sushi, the Mel’s Diner look works better for hash than spicy-crunchy tuna roll; I guess. I hate fish. It’s the Jazz of foodstuffs. Always being recommended to me, always leaving me with the same expression of bewilderment and disgust.
Panjabi Tadka was full to bursting. An interesting combination of hipsters, families, couples, and some friends were streaming in. Most probably off to one of the aforementioned events. Two police officers, parking their vehicle half in the crosswalk, half not (To protect and serve, yes, to park legally? Not so much.) came in. Their walkie talkie squawked until they were called away. If these officers are any indication, mild scofflaw-ing aside, our cops are a relatively cultured bunch. I hope they enjoyed their meal, whenever they got to it! The atrocious shell of the new parking garage loomed beyond the arch; hideous is too gracious a word for it. But an Amtrak train was just pulling in as we ate our meal; 12 more round trips to New Haven within a year, a move toward local service up and down the valley, and discussions about regular Springfield to Boston service connecting inland Connecticut to the Hub of the Universe via our own Union Station. Maybe we can hide the garage with some Cristo style crepe paper.
The symphony was inspiring as always, but the second movement of the new piano concerto commissioned by the orchestra was a bit like a contemporary building designed by a Starchitect: Not content with following the well worn path blazed for him by human experience to create a beauty which conforms to what works, he attempts to technologize an aesthetic experience. It is described in the program thusly:
And here is Frank Gehry designing Springfield’s new Symphony Hall on the Simpson’s:
We can’t get away from the second half of the 20th Century quickly enough. We have come along way though. We can make cities walkable again, we can soften blank brutalist façades, we can clean up sushi places, we can rewrite second movements of concerti, we can activate the ground floor of parking garages. We can’t fix Jazz though, I think it’s supposed to be a mess.